Blogs

14 January 2017
Author: Maria Hardcastle & Sanjoy Roy

Fri 13 Jan:Helen Cox/John Ross Dance/Simone and Elisabeth

Helen Cox double pendulum

John Ross Dance They Never Were

Simone and Elisabeth Impressing the Grand Duke

The second evening of Resolution 2017 commenced with Helen Cox’s double pendulum where she and Andrew Oliver explored the developing connection between two beings. Lucy Hansom and Ric Mountjoy’s lighting design created geometric meeting points which restricted the duo to the confines of the light. The pair tentatively orbited each other whilst building mutual confidence as they took on the form of distant shadows with a continuous flow of motion which had an instinctive synchronised rhythm. Finally the geometric patterns of light dispersed and the dancers were liberated from their confinement. However, their connection remained compelling and we could sense an almost magnetic force tethering the pair. In the closing moments the dancers re-established their assured connection as they freely swung their pendulum like limbs around one another.

Cox’s ideas were stretched and contradicted by John Ross and Nicole Guarino as they combined connection with disconnection in their ominous piece, They Never Were. The duo achieved a complex union through their physicality as they intricately slotted and interconnected their bodies with impressively assured understanding. However, there was an ethereal disengagement as they stared warily into the distance as if they were searching for someone or something. Although the pair demonstrated a small dynamic range they were accompanied by a sea of recorded voices, ranging in age, gender and ethnicity, suggesting that this concentrated duet was relating to a much larger community.

The evening’s programme concluded with vibrant theatricality from Simone Mousset and Elisabeth Schilling in Impressing the Grand Duke. The duo took on animated and colourful characters in order to critically explore the pressures of emerging choreographers. The pair entered an imaginary game which challenged their innovation in order to progress. Spontaneous reactions, rhythmic spoken words and quirky pedestrian actions created a patchwork of humorous and playful movements. After experiencing the elation of finally achieving optimum innovation the couple freeze in place. Schilling innocently asks, ‘And now?’, to which her counterpart cannot answer, thus questioning how artistry can progress if every ounce of creativity has been exhausted in the desperate attempt to be deemed original.

Maria Hardcastle


Any evening at Resolution is a matter of pot-luck, and on Friday 13 January we got lucky: every work was worth seeing. Helen Cox’s double pendulum is low-key but beautifully crafted. Andrew Oliver moves through an oblong of light, his pivots and torques, tilts and reaches all carefully placed; we almost feel the contours of the space around him. He is displaced by Cox, with a similar solo of her own. Cox and Oliver then share the stage in a duet that deftly slots their solo material together so that the two seem in complete harmony – and yet, never quite aware of the connection they have. It’s as if they inhabit two dimensions and only we can see the picture in 3D.

They Never Were, choreographed by John Ross and Nicole Guarino, uses a similar device to more emotive effect. Ross and Guarino’s actions are full of faltering gestures and hesitations, and though they seem like close counterparts and indeed stick very close together, they never actually touch, and scarcely register the other’s presence. Instead, they seem haunted by disembodied presences: voices on the soundtrack that fill the air with cryptic fragments, like lost memories. The text is actually a little confusing, but sound and motion combine to make this an eerie, melancholic miniature.

 In Impressing the Grand Duke, Elisabeth Schilling plays Nympha, a grotesquely doll-like ballet dancer, eager to please and be pretty, while Simone Mousset is Dora, a more cynical, hunched- over contemporary choreographer who craves artistic success. Together they journey into the choreographic forest, through the tunnel of authenticity and over the mountain of innovation, in search of an original idea to impress the Grand Duke of dance. They make it all the way through to the fairytale ending. Then Schilling asks, chillingly: and now? An apt question, one that all the more successful Resolution choreographers will surely ask themselves. I have no answer. But I do hope this evening’s artists get lucky.

Sanjoy Roy

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